“Dishonorable? Do spies deserve to be treated with honor?” Long Feiye retorted icily. “If Helian Zuixiang knew she was a spy, then she shouldn’t have birthed a child! She brought everything onto herself.”
“But her child is innocent!” Han Yunxi shot back. If Su Xiaoyu was considered guilty because she agreed to be used and tortured, then what about Little Yi’er? He probably had no idea about his mother’s origins! He was a victim too! Little Yi’er had once said he’d protect her after he grew up! If he knew his mother was a spy, even he might cry despite being a strong boy.
Long Feiye sighed softly. Although the saying went that a single general’s reputation is made out of ten thousand corpses, he wasn’t bad to the point that he’d hurt an innocent child. Neither would Noble Consort Xiao really do anything to Little Yi’er. At most, she fake a scene or two to scare Heilian Zuixiang, who saw her son’s life as more important than her own. Because of this, she didn’t refuse any of Noble Consort Xiao’s orders.
Long Feiye was simply prodding Han Yunxi on purpose. As it turned out, she couldn’t take any provocation and lost her temper immediately. Seeing him sigh, Han Yunxi suddenly realized that Long Feiye had been testing her! If anyone tried to threaten her with Little Yi’er’s news in the future, she wouldn’t even be able to calm down enough to judge its veracity.
So this is what Long Feiye meant when he said I’d fall by my mercifulness.
Han Yunxi gave Long Feiye a pitiful look. She knew she’d fallen into the trap by making a mistake. It wasn’t serious if she fell prey to her own heart, but if that ended up dragging the so called merciless Long Feiye down with her, then she would have committed a grevious offense. Long Feiye only stared at her coldly without a word. Han Yunxi knitted her brows in response.
Zhao mama grew restless. This was the first time she’d even seen His Highness and the princess wrangle with words. She feared the princess’s temper that couldn’t tell the difference between Heaven and Earth, and that infuriated His Highness with such shocking accusations. After repeated hesitation, she finally stepped forward with a grin and coaxed, “Your Highness, the princess likes children. It can’t be helped! If she has children of her own one day, she’ll definitely be even more impulsive. Your Highness will have a keep a close watch then.”
Zhao mama had really said too much! Both Long Feiye and Han Yunxi turned their heads to look at her. Zhao mama trembled with fear, but still maintained her foolish smile. The couple remained expressionless before they both turned back and met gazes. Han Yunxi immediately dropped her head, while the ever stern Long Feiye suddenly burst into a grin. It seemed like the big problem before them had dissolved into nothing!
He asked, “You like children?”
Before Han Yunxi could answer, he was already speaking again.
“Do you prefer boys or girls?”
Looking at Long Feiye’s icy face, Han Yunxi never imagined that he’d ask a question like this one day. Zhao mama stood smiling on the sidelines, already imagining His Highness’s tall and stalwart form cradling a baby in his arms. How was Han Yunxi supposed to reply? They were supposed to be discussing something serious, alright? She was even in the middle of introspection!
“Mm, I’ll remember what you said. I...I do like children. So...don’t make things too hard for Little Yi’er, alright?” Han Yunxi seized the chance to plea for leniency. She knew there was nothing such as absolute justice in this world. She’d played a few crafty hands herself. But her methods were only meant for sly opponents, not innocent children! She couldn’t just sit by while knowing Little Yi’er was in trouble.
“Alright,” Long Feiye agreed easily. He didn’t pursue the topic any further.
Han Yunxi’s heart settled back in her chest. Although she didn’t say it, Helian Zuixiang’s betrayal had truly chilled her heart. It was rare to find an elder member of the family who treated her well, and yet…
She moved on and took a small item from her robes, setting it on the table. “This is what I picked up on the way to the snake den.”
Long Feiye saw that it was bag full of broken stone bits that emanated a faint, delicate fragrance. “This is?”
“White-Lipped Kraits love to eat these. Someone scattered them on the road and lured them to the west camp. Right now it’s autumn, so all snakes would be fattening themselves up for winter hibernation. The whole nest won’t come out on account of food, so they’d scout it out first,” Han Yunxi was certain.
“Since they like to eat it, why did they leave leftovers?” Long Feiye challenged. Han Yunxi’s collection was quite numerous. But he realized the answer as soon as he spoke. These rocks had been left by someone on purpose after the thousand snakes had already reached the barracks. This was done on purpose as proof, to show that the snakes hadn’t come by chance, but on purpose!
If he and Han Yunxi hadn’t cleared up their misunderstandings, if Han Yunxi herself was still situated in the west camp, then he would have found a poison expert to deal with the snakes! Once the expert found this evidence, Han Yunxi would be his number one suspect! Now that East and West Qin had stopped fighting, any schemes from West Qin would only earn East Qin’s ire. Perhaps it’d even lead to an immediate battle afterwards. Thus, the true culprit didn’t aim to simply cause chaos within the East Qin camp, but sow discord between both sides and increase their enmity against each other!
Han Yunxi picked up a piece of rock and toyed with it in her hands. “It’s natural for Baili Yuanlong to be suspicious!”
He had grudgingly accepted her existence as a “hostage” here because Long Feiye had yielded first. Why wouldn’t he suspect her after something like this had happened? Why wouldn’t he fall for the mastermind’s trap? Han Yunxi only rejoiced that she wasn’t really a West Qin princess, and that she had been by Long Feiye’s side the entire time--proof that she hadn’t been at the scene of the crime. She also felt lucky that she’d found the evidence personally. Otherwise, West Qin wouldn’t be able to wash away their criminal name even if they jumped into the Yellow River.
“Bai Yanqing?” Long Feiye asked coldly.
“Who else could it be but him?” Han Yunxi grew puzzled. “Long Feiye, it’s easy for someone of his caliber to cause chaos within East and West Qin’s camps. A single den of snakes is enough to destroy an entire army. What’s he actually planning?”
If Bai Yanqing wanted to fight for the world against East and West Qin, he could have won ages ago. Why would he wait until now? He didn’t seem like someone bent on conquering the world, so what were his motives for stirring up the waters?
The Art of War stated that those who were never defeated knew themselves as well as their enemies. Currently, they had no idea what Bai Yanqing’s motives were, so how were they supposed to fight him? Perhaps they might think they’ve won while falling into another one of his snares.
Long Feiye couldn’t guess either, but intoned, “No matter what, we have to find Gu Beiyue as soon as possible.”
Han Yunxi nodded vigorously. “Let’s set out tomorrow. My legs will be fine, just get me a wheelchair!”
Han Yunxi didn’t want to stay at the camps another second! Naturally, Long Feiye wouldn’t be foolish enough to target the very house where Su Xiaoyu was kept prisoner to find Bai Yanqing. He need to use the clue and the bait in Baili Mingxiang to set his own trap for Bai Yanqing. He looked at Han Yunxi’s legs with worry. If she needed 100 days to recover like the doctor said, then their game was as good as lost. They couldn’t afford to delay, but he couldn’t bear to have her rush about while still injured. If it affected her recovery and left consequences afterward, he’d always regret it.
Han Yunxi saw Long Feiye’s worry as a crafty look flashed past her eyes. She pulled on his hand and started to whine. “Long Feiye, whether it’s for personal or public interests, let’s hurry and find Gu Beiyue. My legs really feel terrible. If I have to stay like this for 100 days, I’ll never be able to take it! Let’s leave tomorrow, alright?”
Long Feiye saw her pleading look and was long ready to surrender, but Han Yunxi tugged on his hand again and added, “Feiye, just agree already!”
Long Feiye was clearly left at a loss. He coughed lightly twice, then stuttered, “All, all right, I...I’ll make arrangements later right away. You have to behave on the road.”
“I’ll definitely behave!” Han Yunxi was thrilled.
Long Feiye really did rush off to make arrangements. Of course, he not only planned out tomorrow’s departure, but had Xu Donglin burn the snake den and falsely invite a few dozen poison experts to guard the spot. At the same time, he started rumors that thousands of soldiers had been injuried or fatally poisoned in the west camp while the true culprit remained unknown.
If Bai Yanqing got wind that they eliminated the snake queen in one night, he would definitely suspect that Han Yunxi was responsible.
Long Feiye also instructed a few shadow guards to raise their guards to track and hunt down spies. Bai Yanqing wouldn’t have lured the snakes here personally, so one of his subordinates must be responsible. Besides those dancers, there had to be other agents concealed amongst their midst. By the time he finished everything, it was already dark. Han Yunxi couldn’t move, so she remained sitting in Long Feiye’s tent while flipping through his account books. Zhao mama had already brought her three types of nourishing soup that afternoon.
Meanwhile, no news came of Baili Yuanlong or his daughter for the entire day, which meant that Long Feiye had ignored them. Xu Donglin came back to report that he’d found a female doctor to deal with Baili Mingxiang’s wounds, but Han Yunxi only nodded wordlessly. Once he left, Zhao mama couldn’t help but coax, “Princess, Mingxiang entered the snake den because she was worried that her father would do you harm, after all.”
Han Yunxi knew without asking that Zhao mama had already gone to visit Baili Mingxiang personally. She didn’t speak. Zhao mama did visit Baili Mingxiang--and thoroughly curse her out too. But by then Baili Mingxiang had given herself up to despair and self-blame. Instead of crying, she simply sat there like someone turned mute.
“Princess, on the way to the snake den, General Baili suspected that you had designs against His Highness. Mingxiang couldn’t stop him from going, so she followed down in her panic.”
Han Yunxi turned around and said coldly, “Number one, they were the primary causes for Long Feiye getting poisoned. Number two, they’re both Long Feiye’s subordinates, but refused his repeated orders to lead! This is a huge offense, it can’t be excused!”
“Mistress!” Zhao mama grew restless. “Who can keep their head straight when it’s a matter of life or death? They weren’t clear on the situation either. Can you calm your anger on account of the fact that they were thinking of His Highness’s welfare? Unless you speak up, His Highness will never spare them!”
Han Yunxi smiled icily. “What does it mean to obey? That means listening without question, even when the circumstances are uncertain! Is a master supposed to explain himself thoroughly to his subordinates every time before he issues an order?”
Zhao mama was left speechless. She finally understood why the princess was angry.
“Zhao mama,” Han Yunxi instructed, “Help me pass a message to Baili Mingxiang. I don’t want defiant servant girls. Tell her not to call herself ‘this servant’ in the future anymore.”
Although Zhao mama’s heart felt stifled, she nodded and withdrew. Just as she reached the door, Long Feiye entered. He had heard everything Han Yunxi said. Since they were leaving tomorrow, he would have to deal with the Baili father and daughter pair tonight.Previous Chapter Next Chapter